Originally published on 2016/05/25. Post-dated to remain at the top of the blog through the primary.

Most of the time I write a series of individual endorsements and then a summary the night before the election. Often I run short of time to cover every race in as much detail as I'd like. Early voters looking for some guidance have expressed their frustration with this situation.

So this time I'm starting with a list and will fill in with details as I'm able. These endorsements come in two categories: Candidates I am supporting because I know them personally (in the case of challengers or candidates for open seats) or because I've seen their record in office (in the case of incumbents) are highlighted in italics. There are other candidates for whom I would vote, but I don't know them well, and they don't have a track record. These are in normal text.

U. S. House, District 1: Jim Bridenstine
U. S. House, District 2: Jarrin Jackson
U. S. House, District 4: James Taylor

State Senate District 23: Kevin Crow
State Senate District 25: Joe Newhouse
State Senate District 29: Julie Daniels
State Senate District 33: Nathan Dahm
State Senate District 37: Dan Newberry
State Senate District 39: Amanda Teegarden
State Senate District 45: Kyle Loveless

State House District 67: Scott McEachin
State House District 70: Ken Walker
State House District 82: Kevin Calvey

State House District 72: Whitney Cole, the lone GOP candidate, was ordered stricken from the ballot by the State Election Board as ineligible for the seat. The open seat in this north and central Tulsa district, previously held by Darrell Gilbert and Seneca Scott, will be decided in today's Democrat primary. Although I disagree with my friend and former City Councilor Maria Barnes on nearly every state and federal issue, I know from experience that she cares about the concerns of ordinary Tulsans in this district and would recommend her over her rival in the Democrat primary, simply because she's someone I've known and worked with on neighborhood issues for many years. I can't think of a conservative-focused reason to support one Democrat over the other.

Tulsa County Clerk: Michael Willis
Tulsa County Sheriff: Luke Sherman
Tulsa County Court Clerk: Don Newberry
Tulsa County Commissioner, District 2: Josh Turley

Wagoner County Clerk: Lori Hendricks

City of Tulsa races are non-partisan, but I'll add them here for simplicity's sake.

Mayor of Tulsa: A vote for Tom McCay is the only way a conservative can avoid throwing away his vote. A vote for Bartlett Jr or Bynum IV is a vote to reward politicians who have betrayed conservatives on fiscal and social issues.

I'd like to see the entire Tulsa City Council replaced because of their unanimous support for higher taxes and the imposition of leftist views of sexuality on Tulsa's landlords, but conservatives weren't ready with challengers. Still, several races offer a chance to vote for someone new to city government. Several candidates who filed have ceased active campaigning for one reason or another. There are three primaries on Tuesday's ballot: Allen Branch, running in District 6 against the current and previous incumbents, is active in grassroots Republican organizations. In my District 4, Josh Starks is running a vigorous campaign against incumbent Blake Ewing, but I can't support either of them. Two inactive candidates are on the ballot, Michael Haskins and Sam Walker. I like what I've gleaned about Sam Walker, the owner of Over the Top Aerial Productions, from his Facebook page, so I'm going to vote for him as a protest. In District 3, Jim Rice withdrew from the race against incumbent David Patrick, but Araceli Tiger is running an active campaign.

Other endorsements and questionnaires:

Tulsa 9/12 Project leader Ronda Vuillemont-Smith endorsements
Charlie Biggs at the Tulsa Beacon endorsements
Charlie Meadows, former head of Oklahoma Conservative PAC
Oklahoma Constitution Conservative Index
Oklahomans for Life questionnaire

Official information:

Tulsa County Election Board
Oklahoma State Election Board

Rue de Pot du Chambre,

Sign in Chinon, France. Photo by Peter Curb. Used under Creative Commons license.

If you're a conservative, the Chamber of Commerce is not your friend. Not the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, not the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, not the Tulsa Regional Chamber. If you're a conservative voting in the Republican primary, look to see whom the Chambers are supporting then give your vote some other candidate. If the Chambers are attacking a Republican candidate, she's probably worthy of your enthusiastic backing.

This may seem counter-intuitive. Conservative Republicans know that the free market is the engine of prosperity, and we honor and seek to encourage the entrepreneur who starts and builds a business, creating jobs and providing the products and services we need and want. We oppose taxes and regulations that burden businesses and discourage the creation of jobs. Since Chambers of Commerce claim to be the voice of business, shouldn't conservative Republicans heed their advice?

As with many organizations, the claim to speak for a valued segment of the community doesn't reflect the reality of the situation. Chambers of Commerce came into existence to boost business through business cooperation. But Chambers of Commerce are among the many once-noble American institutions that have been co-opted by self-serving special interests and Leftists who are pursuing social transformation and ever-bigger government. There are plenty of other examples: The American Association of Retired Persons, the National Education Association, the YWCA are just a few that come to mind.

It works like this: An organization offers some valuable service to attract members. The AARP offers discounts and insurance, the NEA's state affiliates offer legal coverage (and require membership in the NEA in order to belong to the state association), the YWCA offers access to swimming pools and exercise classes, the local Chamber offers group insurance coverage for small businesses that might not have enough employees to set up something on their own.

These benefits attract members who will be content as long as the services that induced them to join are provided and who aren't likely to get involved in the governance of the organization. These members get a ballot for board members in the mail, and, after a moment's glance, they toss the ballot in the recycle bin.

The broad-based but uninvolved membership gives the organization a credible claim to be the voice of retirees, of teachers, of women, or of business. The leadership, elected by the much smaller body of involved members, can then use that credibility to push an agenda of which the membership may be completely unaware and which they might reject, were they paying attention.

That agenda may reflect the economic benefit of the most influential members, companies that prefer to profit by means of rent-seeking rather than risk-taking. It may reflect the social agenda of the leftists who pursue careers in the not-for-profit sector. The direct approach to social transformation through elections has had mixed results, but the Left has found considerable success in pushing radical ideas by means of organizations with a history and reputation of being non-ideological, evading the defenses citizens put up against political influence.

The two types of influence can work hand in hand. The non-profit employees at Anycity Metro Chamber, as faithful yacht guests, are happy to push for expensive and useless infrastructure projects that benefit the big construction companies who control Anycity Metro Chamber. The big companies are happy to advance leftist social causes as long as they get their way on economic issues. Sometimes interests coincide: For example, Leftists like illegal immigration because it dilutes the votes of those who support the traditional American approach to society and economics; Big Business likes illegal immigration because it dilutes the cost of labor.

Enough theory. Let's get into some examples of how chambers of commerce from the local to the national level are actively working against the interests of conservatives:

On June 3, 2016, Jeff Dunn, chairman of the board of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, described conservative legislators pursuing legislation on issues like abortion and religious liberty as "nut jobs":

The chairman of the Tulsa Regional Chamber complained Friday that "nut jobs on the periphery" wield too much influence in the Oklahoma Legislature.

"We value our relationship with legislators," Chairman Jeff Dunn said during the chamber's annual recap of the legislative session. "(But) I would submit we need some counseling."

The "nut jobs," Dunn said, are preventing the rest of the lawmakers from being as productive as they might be.

Dunn, president and CEO of Mill Creek Lumber, was upset by what he called a "disappointing" legislative session, particularly in regard to education and long-term reform of the state's finances.

Earlier, in opening remarks, Dunn said legislators are too prone to "go off on tangents" instead of concentrating on state government's core missions.

"When we go off on tangents, we look like North Carolina," Dunn said. "And when we look like North Carolina, it's bad for business."

"North Carolina" is an allusion to the swift action taken by that state's legislature to protect the rights of citizens and business owners after the City of Charlotte passed a draconian ordinance that would have, among other effects, required gyms to allow men claiming to be women to use the same changing rooms as actual women. To Dunn, legislation that defends individual liberty and personal conscience, because it runs against the leftist norms enforced by the news media and the entertainment industry, makes a state look backwards and hurts its business prospects.

chamber_of_horrors-1940.jpgEvidently, the leadership and membership of the Tulsa Regional Chamber are just fine with Dunn's insulting and intemperate remarks. He's still listed as Chamber chairman. I find no reports of calls for his resignation or removal, no indication of mass resignations over his remarks. While most Chamber members are likely too busy running their own businesses to pay attention to Chamber politics, Chamber board members share Dunn's culpability if they decline to denounce or distance themselves from his remarks.

Longtime BatesLine readers will recall articles about Tulsa Regional Chamber involvement in wasteful, corporate-welfare-laden sales tax hikes and their attacks on City Councilors (especially conservatives) who sought to subject the Chamber to healthy competition for city contracts, who sought to put the interests of city residents ahead of suburban developers, who sought to ensure that federal community development funds actually went to help Tulsa's neediest neighborhoods. What's new is the Chamber's apparent hostility to conservative concerns about the use of government to impose leftist social views.

In an earlier entry, I mentioned the Tulsa Regional Chamber's diversity initiative, with its surveys that convey the message that sexual orientation and gender identity are inborn, immutable characteristics on par with race and ethnicity, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. These surveys measure a company's commitment to diversity by whether they give domestic partner benefits, sponsor or participate in gay pride parades, and prioritize giving contracts to LGBT-owned businesses. Why would any conservative remain on the board of an organization that funds this kind of propaganda?

Earlier this year, OCPA President Jonathan Small summed up the Tulsa Regional Chamber as a left-wing echo chamber:

Remember the Tulsa Regional Chamber? Its leadership in 2014 participated in a failed attempt to support U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was trying to prevent Republicans from gaining the majority in the U.S. Senate. Imagine if some of the leadership of the Tulsa Regional Chamber had succeeded. Sen. Harry Reid would still be the Senate majority leader. Majority Leader Reid likely would be using the "nuclear option" to ramrod through an extremely left-of-center Supreme Court justice nomination to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.

Once again the Tulsa Regional Chamber is in lock-step with the Obama administration. Obama's administration tried to stifle a very popular school choice program in Louisiana and Washington, D.C. The Tulsa Regional Chamber lobbied against efforts to implement ESAs and is now an accomplice in the death of two bills that would have helped the most vulnerable in Oklahoma.

In fairness, the Tulsa Regional Chamber is consistent. The chamber parrots the funding requests of state agencies, proffers the Medicaid expansion as one of the best economic deals ever offered the state and tries to kill tax relief for all while working for special interest tax breaks. The chamber even tried to cripple the oil and gas industry with exorbitantly high taxes just before the downturn.

Some who have left the Tulsa Regional Chamber or refuse to join will tell you that's because it has become an echo chamber for policies that benefit the growth of big government, with more and more special interests of government involved in the chamber's processes.

Sadly, thousands of Oklahoma's most vulnerable children will lose in part because of the lack of intellectual diversity in the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

In another article, OCPA looked at the presence on the Tulsa and Oklahoma City chamber membership rolls -- and detected a pattern that could explain their support for higher taxes:

In recent years chambers of commerce in this state have done yeoman's work in fighting for important policies such as Right to Work, workers' compensation reform, and lawsuit reform. However, many of these same chambers also lobby strenuously for bigger government, including increased funding for medical welfare programs and for the state's bottomless-pit education monopoly. These chambers lobby against prudent fiscal measures, such as one (not exactly draconian) proposal which would limit the annual growth of state government spending to 9.5 percent. Why is this?

Part of the answer can be found by examining the chambers' membership rosters. In addition to scads of nonprofit organizations (which may or may not receive taxpayer money), one discovers more than a few blatant "'tax eater' entities," to borrow Stephen Moore's phrase.

gardyloo.pngAs for the State Chamber of Commerce, they joined with the Tulsa, Oklahoma City chambers and the U. S. Chamber in a lawsuit to block implementation of employment-related provisions of HB 1804, provisions that would have required Oklahoma employers to verify the employment eligibility of the people they hired. In other words, the Chambers at all levels worked to take the teeth out of the law, to disarm the provisions that made it an effective deterrent to illegal immigration.

The State Chamber also pushed hard for Obamacare Medicaid expansion (euphemistically called "rebalancing" this year) and Common Core. The State Chamber targeted a strongly pro-business conservative Republican, State Sen. Josh Brecheen, for defeat because he supported Common Core repeal and opposed a special tax cut for energy producers, preferring instead to give general tax relief to the state's taxpayers.

Back in 2007, economist Stephen Moore wrote:

In Oklahoma the state chamber filed a petition with the state Supreme Court to block eminent domain reform, and vowed to fight a taxpayer-led movement to enact a Colorado-style [taxpayer bill of rights].

This transcript of a July 2012 State Chamber meeting in Tahlequah quotes the chamber's lobbyist, Chad Warmington, saying, "the legislature spends a lot of time talking about things that just don't matter - I mean, they want to talk about tax cuts and all that stuff."

Also in 2012, then-State Rep. David Dank bemoaned the role "pro-business" lobbyists played in preserving special interest tax credits at the expense of tax relief for all Oklahomans (hat tip to OCPA's Brandon Dutcher):

Sadly, those same lobbyists who secured sweetheart deals for the beneficiaries of tax credits managed to kill most efforts to reform or repeal them during the 2012 session. We did manage to phase out two of the most abused and wasteful tax credits, but dozens of others are being reinstated in July.

In short, the special interests won and the people lost. A primary reason Oklahoma taxpayers will see no income tax relief next year is that a few favored industries will continue to cash in on the public treasury through a still-broken tax credit system.

My rule of thumb is to look for the Chamber label -- who has endorsements and money from Chamber-connected PACs and dark-money groups -- and to vote for someone else. Like many other institutions that started out with nobler purposes, Chambers of Commerce have become a partnership of Leftists who have co-opted the organizations in support of their agenda of bigger, more intrusive government and social transformation and businesses who use the Chambers to put the "pro-business, pro-growth" stamp on measures that transfer taxpayer dollars to their pockets.

MORE:

The problem is not limited to Oklahoma. Chambers of Commerce in other states have lobbied against stricter immigration enforcement, for corporate welfare and eminent domain abuse, and against protections for citizens who believe that there are important distinctions to be drawn between a natural, normal marriage and a "same-sex marriage" and between a real woman and a "transwoman." Here's a sampling of news stories and conservative commentary documenting the hostility of Chambers of Commerce to conservative causes:

Luke Sherman for Tulsa County Sheriff has released surveillance video that they claim shows Aaron Brewer, campaign manager for recently elected Sheriff Vic Regalado, blocking the visibility of Sherman's yard signs by placing other signs before and behind them.

This is an old, petty tactic. It's hard to believe that a campaign manager would stoop to this instead of attending to more pressing responsibilities. If true, it would show a surprising degree of desperation.

The Sherman campaign is emphatic that the video shows Aaron Brewer:

Surveillance video obtained by the Luke Sherman for Sheriff campaign definitively shows Regalado Campaign Manager, Aaron Brewer, sabotaging Luke Sherman signs in Tulsa County. A Sherman volunteer installed the surveillance camera out of his frustration from seeing Sherman signs defaced across Tulsa County.

"We knew someone was sneaking around blocking and damaging our signs. I just didn't want to believe Regalado's campaign would stoop to that level," Luke Sherman says. "But the camera doesn't lie. That is unquestionably Aaron Brewer deliberately blocking my signs with signs from other Republican campaigns he's not even affiliated with. He brazenly used signs from Jim Bridenstine and other Republican candidates, throwing them under the bus, while trying to deceive voters into thinking the Regalado campaign had nothing to do with it."...

Sherman is happy to provide any supporting video and pictures of the surveillance which inextricably confirms Regalado's Campaign Manager, Aaron Brewer, is the person seen in the attached videos.

As of noon Monday, Brewer had not responded to a Facebook message sent at 1:17 a.m. requesting comment.

Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel has, in his personal capacity, endorsed Donald Newberry for Tulsa County Court Clerk and Josh Turley for Tulsa County Commissioner District 2.

The Court Clerk manages court records and processes marriage licenses. Sally Howe Smith, the longtime incumbent, is not seeking re-election. Yazel is recommending Donald Newberry to replace her:

Don is the most qualified candidate for Tulsa County Court Clerk. He has worked in the Tulsa Assessor's office for the past six years, serving Tulsa County citizens with loyalty and professionalism. During this time Don successfully completed his MBA then and a Masters in Indian Law at Tulsa University.

Don currently manages our Title Research Department and his professionalism has been nothing but exemplary. His ingenuity and business mind combined with his management skills and education is exactly what this County needs in an elected official. While I am sad to lose such a valuable employee, I applaud Don's desire to see local government continue to move towards a system of honesty, transparency and customer service.

The incumbent District 2 County Commissioner is Democrat Karen Keith, who was first elected in 2008 and was re-elected without opposition in 2012. Two candidates are competing for the Republican nomination and the opportunity to run against Keith in November. Yazel has endorsed Josh Turley:

Tulsa County is on the brink of change. As Tulsa County Assessor I am endorsing Josh Turley for Tulsa County Commissioner District 2.

We need real change at the county commissioner level. We need a leader who will stand up for what is right. A leader who will address the needs of our citizens. A leader that will open the Tulsa County budget and financials for all citizens to see. A leader who will answer your phone call. It is time for change, it is time for real leadership. It is time to back Josh Turley for Tulsa County Commissioner.

Turley is a 24-year veteran of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, serving as a crime scene investigator and then creating the first risk management program for TCSO, which succeeded in reducing car accidents involving deputies and tort claim payouts.

Yazel's mention of the budget is important, and it's why I'm inclined to trust Yazel's guidance in filling these positions. All eight elected county officials (three commissioners, assessor, clerk, court clerk, sheriff, treasurer) serve on the budget board. Yazel has been pushing for years to account for all sources of funding in the county budget process -- not just the revenues generated by the general fund property tax millage, but revenues generated by services, earmarked revenues, and carryover funds. Recognizing that there are different "colors" of money (legal restrictions on how various funds can be spent), if officials and the public have the whole revenue picture, the budget can be more efficiently allocated. If an office or taxing entity already has a significant amount of money from restricted funds and unrestricted carryover to fund its activities, it won't need as much from the general fund, leaving more money to fund projects and programs without asking taxpayers for higher sales taxes or property taxes.

On his website, Turley writes:

I am running for commissioner because I have seen the waste. I have experienced the failures of privatization of the jail. I have seen the dilapidated county buildings. I have watched our overflowing juvenile facility get worse. I have seen our outdated county vehicles. I have watched government fail to address our old levee. I have watched as year after year we struggle to open our pools. I believe we are not spending your money appropriately.

Turley also notes that, despite funding for the juvenile justice center in two separate sales tax packages, the county has yet to break ground on this much-needed facility.

On the strength of Ken Yazel's recommendation, I plan to join him in voting for Donald Newberry and Josh Turley in Tuesday's primary.

MORE:

Conservative activist leader Ronda Vuillemont Smith plans to vote for Newberry but is undecided in the County Commission race:

I am undecided on this race and may just flip a coin to determine who to vote for. I believe either one will serve us well bringing new ideas and vision for Tulsa county. One the one hand, Turley has worked in county government and is familiar with procedure and protocol while having an understanding of the needs of Tulsa County. On the other hand I have known Grable for a number of years and have spent time listening to his thoughts and ideas and I believe he has a future in politics. His experience in having worked at the state capitol would be beneficial to the office of County Commissioner. Full disclosure: I have donated to Grable's campaign.

Americans for Prosperity is encouraging Oklahomans to express their appreciation to legislators that they've named "Champions of Prosperity," including State Rep. Ken Walker (HD 70) and State Sen. Nathan Dahm (SD 33). Here are the accomplishments AfP cites:

  • Fought to protect Oklahomans from President Obama's harmful Clean Power Plan.
  • Fought to provide greater spending transparency for taxpayers.
  • Fought for the rights of Oklahoma students to get the highest quality education to fit their needs.
  • Voted to defeat measures that would have funded the expansion of Medicaid through Obamacare in Oklahoma.
  • Voted to reduce the income tax burden on hardworking Oklahoma citizens.
  • Voted to reform Oklahoma's public employee pension system to make it more competitive and sustainable.

UPDATE 2016/06/24: Bob Jack contacted me this morning, and we spoke a short time ago, taking exception to some of the things I wrote below. I have made some additions based on our conversation which are highlighted below. FURTHER UPDATE 2016/06/25: At my invitation, Bob Jack has sent a reply, which I have appended to the end of this entry.

Oklahoma State Senator Mike Mazzei has reached his term limit. Four Republicans and a Democrat have filed for the open Senate District 25 seat.

Senate District 25 is mainly Bixby and adjacent parts of SE Jenks, western Broken Arrow, and south Tulsa, but there's a periscope that extends north between Sheridan and Memorial to near 31st Street, then veers east and north as far as 21st and US 169. It is part of a blatant gerrymander, divvying up Democrat-trending areas among several districts and transplanting Senate 33 from midtown Tulsa to Broken Arrow. Democrats have no room to complain because they did the exact same thing, if not worse, when they ran the legislature.

Joe Newhouse is my recommendation for Senate 25. I've had the opportunity to work with Joe on several projects, and I've seen his energy and enthusiasm, his diligence and organizational skills at work firsthand. He's personable and builds good working relationships. From our conversations over the years, I know that Joe Newhouse is strongly committed to his Christian faith (he and his family are part of River Oaks Presbyterian Church, part of the conservative Presbyterian Church in America), to his family, and to conservative, constitutional principles of government. Joe is a local, going to Broken Arrow Public Schools all the way through.

Joe_Newhouse-Senate_25-2016.jpg

Newhouse flew EA-6B Prowlers in the Iraq War, taught fighter tactics as an instructor at NAS Pensacola, earned a master's degree and certification as a Program Management Professional (PMP), served three years as a field representative for Congressman Jim Bridenstine, and is a Commander in the Navy Reserve, working as a military adviser to NATO.

Newhouse served in the private sector as a program manager, working with engineers and customers to bring multi-million dollar contracts to successful and timely completion. If elected, Newhouse would join State Rep. Chuck Strohm as a legislator with experience in flight simulation, an underappreciated but significant and growing industry in Oklahoma with potential to diversify our economy beyond oil and gas.

On his issues page, you can see Newhouse's thoughts on education funding and reform, defending against federal encroachment on our 2nd Amendment rights, rebuilding our roads and bridges, and supporting Oklahomans in the military -- active duty, reserve, and veteran.

The other candidates in the race have their fans. Craig Murray can boast of a maximum contribution from actor/comedian Rodney Carrington.

Lisa Kramer's list of donors include a couple of people who led the elitist effort to replace geographically elected councilors with citywide elected councilors: OSU-Tulsa president Howard Barnett and Ben Latham. The left-leaning "Blue Cereal" blog has written enthusiastically about Kramer; in her answers, she appears to oppose school choice.

Bob Jack, former senior VP and now adviser to Manhattan Construction Company, has the backing of individuals and PACs connected with the Tulsa Regional Chamber (which he served as a board member) and State Chamber of Commerce (where he served on the executive board), and he is a client of AH Strategies and Majority Designs.

UPDATE: Bob Jack has informed me that the information on his website about his service as an adviser to Manhattan is out of date. He cut all ties with the company some time ago.

Friends who know him tell me that Jack is a good man, a solid Christian gentleman. Some of the names on his contributor list are people I know through local church circles, and their willingness to support him financially speaks highly of him.

My concern is that because of his connection with Manhattan and the Chambers, Bob Jack will be inclined to see government-funded heavy construction projects (like the BOK Center) as the path to economic development and to look to the Chambers for guidance on taxation and state priorities. In a later entry, I will explain in some detail why the Chamber label on a candidate should be viewed by conservatives as a warning label.

To name one specific issue: Recall that Chambers of Commerce in many states and cities have lobbied to kill protections for citizens who believe that there are important distinctions to be drawn between a natural, normal marriage and a "same-sex marriage" and between a real woman and a "transwoman." While Bob Jack is likely on the right side of such issues personally, his Chamber allies are demanding that everyone jump on the "diversity" bandwagon, issuing surveys that equate sexual orientation and gender identity with race and ethnicity and measure a company's commitment to diversity by whether they give domestic partner benefits, sponsor or participate in gay pride parades, and prioritize giving contracts to LGBT-owned businesses. When Jack was a board member of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, did he support these "diversity" initiatives? Did he raise any objections? UPDATE: Bob Jack assures me that he is on the right side of those issues, informs me that he did indeed raise objections to these sorts of Chamber programs, and says that his service on the board of the Tulsa Regional Chamber was one of the duties of his job with Manhattan and not a matter of personal choice.

Better that we should have a state senator with experience in both the military and small business and without associations that might pull him away from his conservative principles. In that light, I can confidently commend Joe Newhouse to the Republican voters of Senate District 25 in next Tuesday's election.

The City of Tulsa has collected a gallery of interactive maps of the city, depicting parks, creek watersheds, council districts, neighborhood associations, small area plans, and currently open permits.

On a sadder note, there are also maps of meth labs, sex offenders, crimes, and traffic accidents.

This has been out for a few weeks, but I thought it deserved to be noted here. Retired U. S. Sen. Tom Coburn, renowned for his adherence to principle and his often-lonely fight for fiscal sanity in Washington, has endorsed Jarrin Jackson, who is challenging incumbent Markwayne Mullin in Coburn's old 2nd Congressional District, and Jim Bridenstine, who is seeking re-election in the 1st Congressional District.

Here is the press release about Coburn's endorsement of Jarrin Jackson:

May 31, 2016 (Oologah, OK) - Today, former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn announced his endorsement of combat veteran Jarrin Jackson who is challenging Congressman Markwayne Mullin in Oklahoma's second district.

Dr. Coburn, who had endorsed Mullin in 2012, said, "I am proud to endorse Jarrin Jackson, a combat veteran who understands and has fought for our Constitution. He will stand up for us in Washington and not go along to get along. He also will honor a six year self imposed term limit."

Coburn's endorsement comes on the heel of recent comments Rep. Mullin made about a similar term limit pledge he made in 2012. Then, when running as a first-time candidate, Mullin pledged to serve no more than three two year terms in Congress. However, when asked recently if this would be the last time he ran for the office, Mullin said he is seeking the Lord's guidance and will instead do what he thinks is best for his family and District.

"Dr. Coburn's endorsement is important," Jackson said, "because it reinforces his reputation for integrity and courage. He not only served us with honor when he held office, but he continues to serve by insisting that other public officials do the same. It takes courage to speak truth to power, no matter the truth, no matter the power. I welcome his support, his example, and the opportunity to build upon his work."

Here is Coburn's endorsement of Bridenstine:

Jim Bridenstine is a man of his word. He faces unrelenting pressure from the political elite in Washington, yet he has never wavered in his commitment to the First District or our country. His courageous voting record is proof that he cares more about the long term health of our nation than his own political career. That kind of moral courage is rare in Washington today. I am proud of the work he does on our behalf and thankful for the sacrifices that he and his family make to serve. I wholeheartedly endorse Jim Bridenstine.

I agree with Tom Coburn. While I was very skeptical of Jim Bridenstine and his motives when he ran in 2012, he has proven to be as principled as he said he would be, working to remove unprincipled and cowardly leadership, fighting to defund Obamacare, Obama's executive amnesty, and Planned Parenthood, and at the same time building a relationship with his colleagues that has allowed him to advance our interests in the 1st District.

Mullin, elected the same year, has followed the opposite path, refusing to buck leadership, refusing to oppose funding for unconstitutional purposes, and now laying the groundwork to revoke his term-limits promise.

Amanda_Teegarden-Senate_39.jpg

District 39 State Sen. Brian Crain has hit his term limit; four Republicans and a Democrat have filed to replace him. I will be voting for Amanda Teegarden, a conservative who has demonstrated her commitment to her principles through her activism. Teegarden has shown herself to be a careful student of legislation and the legislative process and an effective advocate. It's hard for me to think of someone currently out of the legislature who is better prepared to serve in the legislature than Amanda Teegarden.

(Senate District 39 is sword-shaped, extending from I-244 to 81st Street between Harvard and Sheridan, going all the way to 101st Street between Yale and Sheridan, with a hilt between Peoria and Mingo, 21st and 31st, and a grip between Harvard and 89th East Ave., I-244 to 21st, roughly.)

In 2007, Teegarden founded Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise (OK-SAFE) to raise awareness and fight the extension of the NAFTA SuperCorridor (also known as the Trans-Texas Corridor or NAFTA Superhighway) through Oklahoma, a massive exercise in corporate welfare and eminent domain abuse with the added threat to Oklahoma's sovereignty over its own territory. While many legislators appear not to have read the enabling legislation, Teegarden went to the meetings and presentations by the proponents of the supercorridor, read the bills, dug into the implications, and worked tirelessly to present her findings to citizens and legislators. Her persistence paid off. Since that time, she has continued to research, educate, and advocate on behalf of Oklahoma citizens.

The other Republican candidates seem like decent folks. Back in 2003, Dave Rader, the former University of Tulsa football coach, stepped in to serve as county Republican party vice chairman (serving along side Chairman Pam Peterson) at a critical moment. Alan Staab, owner of an oil and gas company, started his campaign early last year, has the support of many of his colleagues in the energy industry, and has put quite a bit of his own money into the race. He was a client of AH Strategies and Majority Designs, but his last two campaign filings seem to show that he is no longer their client (a fact that speaks well of Staab); they appear now to be working for Rick Poplin, an airline pilot who is also running for the seat. Staab has the financial support of Obama bundler George Kaiser and the BOK Financial Corp. PAC.

Notwithstanding the positive qualities of her opponents, Oklahoma needs Amanda Teegarden in the legislature -- someone who will read the legislation put before her, someone who will demand answers, someone who will reject insider deals and corporate welfare. It will be a pleasure to cast my vote for her next Tuesday.

MORE: Dr. Everett Piper, the courageous chief of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, has endorsed Amanda Teegarden:

Amanda Teegarden is an honest and trustworthy conservative. She understands our state's constitution about as well as anyone I know and she has already proven to be a tireless defender of it and the freedoms it promises. My endorsement is unequivocal and without hesitation. Amanda will be an outstanding senator!

On Tuesday, June 28, 2016, Republican voters in Tulsa County will decide which of two candidates will be our next County Clerk. The incumbent is not running for re-election, and only two Republicans filed for the seat: Michael Willis and Nancy Rothman.

Online access to public records is a big deal to me. Part of what has enabled me to research and write about public matters for the last 13 years is the ready availability of information online. I have a job, and I have a family, and if I had to burn vacation hours to go to City Hall or the County Courthouse during normal office hours to do my research, it wouldn't happen very often.

When I researched my story on Tulsa's lost Near Northside neighborhood, the land ownership angle was important enough that I took time off work and went to the courthouse during normal business hours, passing through the metal detectors and having my wallet x-rayed, so that I could sit at one of the public access terminals in the county clerk's office. Plat maps were available only as pages in a book -- a shame since they contain fascinating historical information like the locations of streetcar tracks and streets that were later wiped out by urban renewal and expressway construction.

It doesn't have to be that way. When, out of curiosity, I wanted to find the address of a Florida house my in-laws owned as an investment for a few years in the 1970s, it took about 15 minutes of online research before I had a digital image of the deed on my computer screen.

For 32 years, the Tulsa County Clerk's office has been ruled by a single dynasty: Joan Hastings served from 1985-2001. Her deputy, Earlene Wilson, served as county clerk from 2001-2013, and Wilson's deputy, Pat Key, was elected in 2012, but Key has opted not to run for re-election. Her deputy, Nancy Rothman, is running for the office.

While county clerks across the country have made land records and documents readily available online, the Tulsa County Clerk's office, under the Hastings-Wilson-Key-Rothman dynasty, has resisted the online public records revolution.

There have been a few minor improvements recently. You still have to pay for online access to county clerk land records, but as of last September you no longer have to get the permission of the County Commission to set up an account. The mainframe-based LRMIS system for assessor and treasurer records is now available for free, but Assessor Ken Yazel has long provided an easy-to-use website to access the same information.

Not only have Rothman and her dynastic predecessors failed to serve the public's access to public records, Nancy Rothman's record of disastrous self-management makes it clear that she has no business managing public funds or public assets of any sort.

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We need a change. We need a county clerk with the right vision -- facilitating public access to public records -- and the skill set to make it happen. That's why I'm supporting Michael Willis. Willis has 10 years experience working in government and a master's degree in public administration. He has served as an aide to Mayor Bill LaFortune and most recently as a chief deputy to the County Commission. He has overseen significant improvements to the Tulsa County website, streamlining access to public information. Willis supports the expansion of free online access to public documents, including land records.

Just as important, Willis is a devoted husband and father, a decent, principled human being without a whiff of scandal in his life.

The same cannot be said about Nancy Rothman, who lost custody of her two sons and had to pay her ex-husband's attorney's fees because of behavior that the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals called "reprehensible" in accusing her ex-husband of molesting one of his sons, seeking to alienate their sons from their father, and plotting to plant child pornography in her ex-husband's apartment. At the same time, she appears to have squandered a generous divorce settlement, remortgaging her sprawling midtown mansion for ever greater amounts until she declared bankruptcy in 2006. To my knowledge, Rothman has never expressed remorse for her actions. More ought to be said about this woman who, despite her nefarious behavior, continues to be appointed to positions of public trust by people who should have better judgment, and I intend to say more in a separate entry.

Even if his opponent were a decent, upstanding citizen, Michael Willis's experience, knowledge, and character would still make Willis the best choice for Tulsa County Clerk, and I urge you to join me in voting for Willis on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.

Back last November and again in April during filing for candidates for city offices, I begged for a principled conservative to throw his hat in the ring for Mayor of Tulsa, so we wouldn't be left with a Hobson's choice between Tweedledee Jr and Tweedledum IV, both of whom have embraced a failed understanding of what makes for a livable, lovable city. After two days of filing, the only alternatives were two perennial candidates with problems of their own.

Tom_McCay-Tulsa.pngOn the final day of filing, Tom McCay answered the call, and he has my support and my vote to become Mayor of Tulsa.

McCay's reason for getting into the race: "I kept waiting for someone in office to represent me, my family and my neighbors. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, I became that someone." He notes, "There is no real difference between GT Bynum & Dewey Bartlett, who have virtually identical platforms."

Tom McCay and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 30 years, and they have five children -- two daughters who are working as professionals, a son in college at OSU, and two more daughters still at home. McCay is a designer and creator of jewelry. Many years ago he founded and directed Tulsa's first improvisational comedy group, the Obnoxious Party Guests. The McCays are active members of Christ the King Parish (Catholic). The McCays live near 31st and Mingo, and if Tom is elected, he would be the first mayor of Tulsa in 28 years who doesn't live in the Midtown Money Belt.

McCay's vision of city government is one that focuses on its core mission, while reducing the obstacles to the formation and growth of small business. One of his ideas is to lengthen the terms of the city licenses and permits so that small businesses don't have to deal with the direct and indirect costs of licenses and permits as often. The overall fiscal impact to the city is small, but it can make a big difference to an individual business.

It's fair to say that McCay, like most Tulsans, isn't intimately familiar with the nuts and bolts of city government. That's OK. Since the switch to a mayor-council form of government in 1990, every mayor has handed off the day-to-day responsibilities for city government functions to a city manager under various titles -- Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Operating Officer, to name a couple. (Before 1990, the functions of city government fell to the separately elected commissioners for water and sewer, streets and public property, police and fire, and finance.)

The important thing is to have a mayor with the right vision and guiding principles. The leading candidates are both under the misapprehension that a city's growth and prosperity depends on an activist government commissioning the right big projects and offering the right incentives to lure big companies to town. Tom McCay is a conservative who believes in American exceptionalism and free-market capitalism. He understands that government's role in fostering prosperity consists in performing its basic functions and getting out of the way of individual creativity.

Tom McCay wisely opposed the ill-considered Vision Tulsa tax increase, while the two Money Belt candidates both supported it.

Tweedledee IV and Tweedledum Jr are both enthusiastic supporters of using city government force to impose acceptance of the philosophy and mores of the Sexual Revolution, following the oppressive examples of Charlotte and Houston. McCay would allow Tulsans the freedom to exercise their own judgment in deciding whether to make a distinction between actual women and men who claim to be women, between natural marriages grounded in the biological facts of life and same-sex pseudogamy that seeks the honor due to marriage, the freedom to decide how to handle these challenging issues in the context of their families, churches, schools, civic organizations, and businesses.

I am grateful to Tom McCay and his family for leaving their comfort zone and running for office, because it means we have the opportunity on June 28 to cast our vote, not for the lesser of two evils, but for an honorable Christian gentleman who shares our values and our philosophy of government.

Campaign sign for Jane Prentice, Member of the Australian House of Representatives for Queensland's Ryan electoral division, seen in front of a home in Toowong, Brisbane, Queensland.

I recently returned from a business trip to Brisbane, Australia, my first visit south of the equator, and, for the second time in two years, an overseas visit coincided with a general election. Radio, TV, and newspapers were dominated by coverage of the election, but billboard ads and yard signs are rare. (Last March in Israel, political yard signs and billboards were everywhere.)

All 150 seats in the Australian House of Representatives and all 76 seats in the Australian Senate (12 each for the six states, plus 2 each for the two territories) are up for election on July 2, 2016. As in the UK, the party or coalition that controls a majority of the lower house forms the government. The current government is a center-right coalition of the Liberal Party and the National Party which won election in 2013. Tony Abbott, as leader of the Liberals at the 2013 election, became PM, but was ousted last year, just like Margaret Thatcher in 1990, in what the Aussies call a "leadership spill." The new leader of the party and the new PM is Malcolm Turnbull. The principal opposition is the Australian Labor Party, the local manifestation of socialism, and led by Bill Shorten, who took over party leadership after Labor's defeat in 2013. The House serves a maximum three-year term, but the PM can call for a dissolution prior to that time. Ordinarily, half of the 76 senators are elected along with the whole House.

The 150 seats in the House are allocated among the states by population. Within each state, electoral division boundaries are drawn so that each division's population is within 10% plus or minus of the ideal value (population / allocated seats). With a population of 22,793,303, each house member represents about 151,955 constituents. (A U. S. Congressman, on average, represents almost five times as many -- 744,320, as of earlier today.) Even with the smaller population per district, some of the districts are vast. Durack, in Western Australia, is 1,629,858 sq. km., just 5% smaller than Alaska. The smallest division, Grayndler, in the inner suburbs of Sydney, is only 32 sq. km., smaller than Jenks.

This map of the current electoral divisions shows how lopsided Australia's population distribution is: 118 of the 150 divisions are in a swath along the coast between Brisbane and Adelaide. The two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, can outvote the rest of the country, with 84 seats in the House between them.

The 2013 results map likewise reveals the lopsidedly urban focus of support for Labor (pink). The ruling center-right Coalition is represented by blue (Liberal Party), green (National Party), purple (Queensland's Liberal National Party, where the two coalition parties have merged), and tan (Northern Territory's Country Liberal Party). Currently, three seats are held by minor parties and two by independents. Representatives are elected using instant runoff voting, so in the rare case where candidates from both the Liberal Party and National Party are on the ballot, supporters of one can give second preference to the other and deny a victory to Labor.

Australia-2013_Election_Result_Map.png

The Senate voting system is strange, and I still haven't got my mind quite wrapped around it. You can vote preferentially for party groups "above the line" or for individual candidates "below the line." I haven't quite grasped how these two types of votes are combined. Preferential ballots are counted using the single transferable vote (STV) system, which produces a proportional result. Consequently, minor parties have a bigger voice in the Senate, where the Coalition currently holds 33 seats, Labor holds 25, the Greens hold 10, five minor parties hold one seat each, and there are three independents. The Coalition needs support from six senators of other parties to get their legislation passed.

And when that doesn't happen -- when the party of government cannot get its legislation through the Senate -- the PM can call for a "double dissolution" in which all senators are up for election. Presumably the new election will either give the ruling party the majorities in needs in both houses or will deliver an unequivocal victory to the Opposition, but either way the logjam will be cleared. A double dissolution requires that some bill has passed the House and been voted down in the Senate twice with at least three months between attempts. Three specific bills involving the construction industry and labor unions were cited by Turnbull in his letter to the Governor-General (Sir Peter Cosgrove, Queen Elizabeth's viceroy in Australia) requesting a double dissolution.

If the newly elected parliament should fail to pass one or more of the bills cited for the double dissolution, the PM can request a joint sitting to consider only those bills, creating a temporary 226-member unicameral legislature, in which the Senate comprises about a third of the total membership. A joint sitting has happened exactly once, in 1974, when Labor sought to enact socialized health care.

You may be heartened to know that an election in Australia is just as susceptible as an American election to turn on some silly non-issue. During my stay, the political world was in an uproar over Labor leader Bill Shorten's remark that mothers handle most of the childcare in the country. This was in connection with his announcement of a US$2.25 billion subsidy for childcare. In response, PM Turnbull and scoffed at Shorten's "sexist" gaffe and pledged allegiance to feminism.

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